What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
Some of my earliest memories are of playing on our family pots and pans along with our family Bob Marley records. My dad, Donald Sr., was a big audiophile, He had reel to reels, 8-track machines, cassettes, and an expansive record collection. Highlights were the original Def Jam vinyls and Parliament Funkadelic albums that came with comics on the inside. He was great about sharing the love of aural fine art with me. I very much appreciate this.
Im an Aural Fine Artist. I look at the art I create as directly related to my humanity. If I’m a selfish, square, hyper individualistic human being, then my art will reflect that. I feel I can best make a difference sonically with my expansive drumset, communicating with another instrument and in an improvisational setting. Period.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
The art on the SoundArt release came about from duo improvisations with my frequent collaborator, Emanuel Ruffler. He was kind as well as talented enough to refine and mature the concept with his compositionally enhancement. His keyboard playing and sonic colour palette are also superb.
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
My main artistic influence would have to be Miles Davis. Both for his fearlessness as well as his economy of sound. Other great influences would be Cecil Taylor, Tony Williams, Billy Cobham, Ronald Bruner Jr., Deantoni Parks, Mike Mitchell, Devon Taylor, Chris Dave, Vernon Reid and Bill Laswell among others that I’m positive I’m forgetting.
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
Talking about music/art is like cooking about architecture. It seems that the people who can talk about music very well, usually have an agenda that is self serving. To be rich, famous, adulation of their peers. I seek none of that. I create and share my art because I feel my not doing that would be denying my humanity. My gift to the world. Its like a person having 100 cows and denying their friends and neighbors milk. Now in this capitalist shitstem, the first thing people would look to do is commodify the cows. I purposely distance myself from the commodifying of my art and all the propagandist language one must spew to get people to “buy” it. Let me just say this: When the art has my name on it, it’s honest, it has integrity and it was picture of that point in my consciousness.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
Miles Davis – Kind of Blue: this album changed my life. Sonically it feels as comfortable as a wool comforter that just came out the clothes dryer. It’s a masterpiece of improvisation within a structure.
Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti: Bombast and chord structure. Superb. Classic.
Donald Sturge Anthony McKenzie II – Silenced: A complex meal for a discernible palate. A personal masterpiece.
Miles by Miles Davis and Quincy Troupe: I first read this book while having a difficult time on the road while I was touring with New Kingdom in the early 90’s. I wish there was a documentary or dramatization that would do this book justice. Its profoundly liberating especially for Black mens’ self esteem.
http://listenliberal.com Listen Liberal by Thomas Frank: A profound analysis of why the USA is no longer (and arguably never was) a democracy. All our politicians are bought and paid for.
http://www.harukimurakami.com/book/hard-boiled-wonderland-and-the-end-of-the- world I read this book while in forced isolation and it transformed my consciousness. It is vivid fiction. Equivalent to 4K TV for the mind.
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
I despise live performance. Recently this disgust has elevated to a passion. I DO NOT SEEK PUBLIC VALIDATION FOR MY ART. Live performances seem to be a means to stroke the ego of the performers. My drumset is specialized and unique to me. I can’t be forced to set it up in 10 minutes for a soundman that is more interested in my cut off time than translating MY sound to the audience. I cant get off a live concert stage without feeling exploited recently and that’s for a reason: My art has been compromised in that setting.
My time with this spirit is limited. I want a documentation of my performances. If I could record in a studio environment daily, I would.
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
Fine art isn’t funny. Especially not the way I do it. It’s deadly serious. Life and death are the result. Listen to the music.
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
I could listen to “Shana Tucker” on SoundArt all day and night. The groove. The tonality from the drums. The keyboard modulations. Fantastic art. A joyous document.
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
Id rather my plans be a surprise to the audience.
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…
Why do you do it, Don?
I have no choice.
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
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